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Richmond Park News: 17th May 2024

Earlier this week, both boroughs saw the investiture of new Mayors. North Richmond Councillor Richard Pyne will be the Mayor for Richmond upon Thames for the next 12 months and Surbiton councillor Liz Green will be the Mayor of Kingston upon Thames.  I wish them both well for their mayoral years and look forward to meeting them at some of their many engagements.


TRANSPORT QUESTIONS: HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE


On Thursday, I asked Transport Minister Huw Merriman a very simple question, does the Government still intend to keep its promise and repair Hammersmith Bridge? Despite his colleague making a definitive commitment to get the bridge reopened during the last General Election, the Minister responded by denying any responsibility for the bridge's repairs.


After so many years of delays and closure, I know how many residents, myself included, are tired of seeing ministers and officials pass the buck on this project. The Government knows the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham cannot afford to pay for the repairs and so it has a simple choice ahead of it, either keep its promise and fix the bridge, or abandon the project and come clean with the public.


In other Hammersmith Bridge news, the temporary cycle path will unfortunately be closing again on the 28th of May. It should be reopening in November of this year, after the bridge is stabilised.


To watch my question to the minister and his response, click here.



ITV LATE DEBATE - TACKLING CRIME IN LONDON


Last night, I spoke on the ITV Late Debate about what we expect to see in the next few years across our city following the recent GLA and Mayoral Elections.


I particularly want to see a focus on tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in our city given that, since 2015, over 500 Police Community Support Officers have been cut from our streets. 


The Met has some of the worst conviction rates of all forces in the country for crimes such as burglary and car theft. I want to see the Conservative Home Secretary and the Labour Mayor of London work together to resolve these issues, rather than passing the buck and blaming each other.  We need a return to local, community policing, with officers on the streets, keeping our communities safe.



TONY'S CHOCOLONELY DROP IN


This week, Tony’s Chocoloneley, who are headquartered right here in Richmond, held an event in Parliament to highlight all the work they have been doing to end modern slavery and improve working conditions in the chocolate industry. Most cocoa farmers earn less than $1 a day, and with approximately 2.1 million children working in the industry, conditions on these farms can be extremely dire.


As part of their mission, Tony's partner with local people to make sure they get a fair price for their produce and it was a pleasure to meet some of the West African farmers who play such a fundamental role in the production of Tony’s Chocolonely.




MEETING WITH VICTORIA ATKINS, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR HEALTH: CHILDREN'S CANCER CARE


On Tuesday, I joined a cross-party group of 11 London MPs in a meeting with Victoria Atkins, Secretary of State for Health and NHS England to discuss children's cancer care in south London moving to the Evelina Hospital in Lambeth.


Although I do not contest that the Evelina is an excellent hospital, I have serious concerns that it does not constitute the best place to treat children with cancer. Alongside being easier to access by car, St Georges Hospital has more than two decades experience treating paediatric cancer cases. It is more specialised in paediatric neurosurgery, which impacts almost three times the number of children affected by the Evelina's specialisation, nephrological or cardiovascular treatment, and costs £14 million less to implement than the Evelina's bid.


The assessment process behind the selection of a new cancer care treatment centre seemed to ignore the relevance of each of these factors, and so, I, along with my party colleagues Munira Wilson and Ed Davey, have officially requested Victoria Atkins call in NHS England's decision and review the process behind it.




NIGHT FLIGHTS CONSULTATION: CLOSES 22ND OF MAY


The Government's consultation on Night Flights closes on the 22nd of May. This consultation will help shape the rules and regulations that govern night flying rules at Heathrow for the next 3 years. If you are affected by the flight path I would urge you to make your views known.


Alongside disrupting sleep, evidence suggests night flights can impact your physical and mental health dramatically, leading to an increased risk of stroke and affecting children's ability to study even when the noise does not wake them up.


You can read my draft consultation response here, and respond to the consultation here.



CONSTITUENCY VISITS


Last week, I visited Coombe Girls School for their yearly celebration of diversity, multiculturalism and the different communities that make up the student body. I was really impressed both by the quality of the dance, music and poetry  performances, and by the support for the performers from the school community.  The highlight was the fashion show of the national costumes of all the different nationalities that make up the Coombe community – a really enjoyable and uplifting occasion.


It was also a pleasure to join Ham & Petersham SOS for a celebration of their volunteers and staff, hosted by the charity Ninety Degrees South.  I attended the Richmond May Fair on Saturday and enjoyed speaking to may of the stallholders and charity representatives.  I also popped into the Family Fun Day at The Keep in Kingston and spoke to some of the military families that live there.


Finally, earlier this week, I joined First Give's Charity Event at Richmond Park Academy. During the event, classes pitched local charities that they felt deserved more support and publicity. Although all the presentations were outstanding, the winning class, 7 Sycamore, delivered a brilliant presentation on behalf of Small Steps, a local non-profit specialising in support for children with disabilities. If you'd like to learn more about Small Steps or donate towards their work you can visit their website here.


WATER BILLS SUPPORT


If you or someone you know has had trouble paying their water bill, there are a number of support schemes available which might be able to help. Recent changes now mean that if you have a larger, younger family you are now eligible for their reduced social tariff. Additionally, if your water bill makes up more than 5% of your income, you now qualify for 50% off through the WaterHelp Scheme. Finally, if you have a large family or a water dependent medical condition, the WaterSure scheme caps your bills at £471 per annum.


For more information on how to access these schemes, click the link here.



RICHMOND NEWS


NORTH RICHMOND MEGA SKIP DAY


Tomorrow, Saturday 18th of May, between 9am and noon, the Council's Mega Skip will be in place on Lambert Avenue. If you have bulky or cumbersome items you've been meaning to throw away, you can take them to the Mega Skip to dispose of them free of charge.


There are a maximum of 6 items per Household and they won't be able to accept any rubble, paint, or chemicals. Make sure to bring your ID to show you are a local resident.



VINEYARD COMMUNITY CENTRE: RICHMOND FOOD BANK


The Richmond Foodbank is running low on some key supplies, if you are able to donate any of the items on this list, including rice, tinned goods, toiletries, I know they would be immensely appreciated.


Richmond Foodbank has helped thousands of people in our community over the past year and they can only do this with the support of the public. You can read more about their mission and how to donate with the link here.



KINGSTON NEWS


MUSIC IN KINGSTON


If you have a spare moment tomorrow afternoon, I would highly recommend heading to All Saint's Church and exploring the amazing series of workshops, exhibitions, and performances put on by the Kingston Music Service and a host of other musical creatives.


You can try a new instrument, listen to some of the best musicians in our corner of London or simply take a stroll around the event and take in everything it has to offer. The event runs from midday to 3pm and it will be well worth dropping by. Find out more with the link here.





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